Vine 6 Second Video App for Twitter on Apple Store Shows Pornographic Content

(Image: Vine screenshot)

Last week, Twitter launched a mobile app for Apple products that allows users to share 6-second, real-time video clips (as of this writing, it’s currently number seven in the “free” section of the app store). “Vine” has already been hailed as cool and addictive with loads of potential. But it also has a big problem: It’s being called creepy and has a huge porn issue.

As Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann wrote on the app’s blog, the posts are “about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger.”

“They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life,” Hofmann wrote. “They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special.”

Those “windows” also include peeks into a seedy side. That problem has become apparent when searching the app and also while watching the equally viral feed on Vinepeek (Vine is the app while Vinepeek is a completely unaffiliated website pulling together content from the app). A quick look Monday morning mostly showed people capturing their daily routines (someone walking their dog, another biking to work, others riding the subway). But users also saw this message (below).

Vine 6 Second Video App for Twitter on Apple Store Shows Pornographic Content

(Image via Business Insider)

That’s what comes up ​sometimes ​after graphic content is uploaded and reported. But not always.

As Business Insider pointed out, a hardcore pornographic clip showed up in Vinepeek’s “Editor’s Picks” reel Monday. It’s worth noting, the editor’s picks might not be hand-selected by a real human being — it might be a program randomly selecting from various feeds.

Still, Vine has been criticized widely the last few days for its pornographic content. The Atlantic Wire reported that it might have taken a little while for the collective Internet to notice the problem, but take note it has.

And the bigger issue is that like Reddit, Instagram and other social sharing websites that have a racier underside, Vine and Vinepeek can lead users to pornography, whether they intend to find it or not. Users don’t even have to type more nefarious keywords like “porn” or “nude” to turn up X-rated results.

We downloaded the app and tested the innocent keywords like “girls” (we tried to put ourselves in the position of a teen or child who had downloaded the app). It didn’t take long (two seconds of scrolling) to come across eye-popping content. One video featured a girl dressing for her day, but with “nude” detail. While the woman covers up her sensitive areas, it doesn’t leave much for the imagination. It also includes the tag “nude”, which not surprisingly quickly leads to much more graphic content (especially since many of the “nude” videos include the tag “porn”).

Vine 6 Second Video App for Twitter on Apple Store Shows Pornographic Content

This blurred screenshot shows the first video that shows up for the search “girl” using the Vine app. (Image: Vine screenshot/Jon Seidl)

To be fair, the home page of the Vinepeek site partially warns that videos like those above could pop up. In bold text it reads:  This stream is coming straight from Vine and is unmoderated. You have been warned! :)

But the app calls into question Apple’s own policy, the Atlantic Wire pointed out:

These App Store restrictions on pornographic content have been around as long as the App Store. Surely in the past five or so years, the moderators know a porn magnet when they see one. Vine is hardly the first video-sharing app to make it through the approval process, not to mention the many photo-sharing apps. (And Apple’s certainly not afraid of enforcing those rules, as we learned when it yanked the 500px app after it started to become home to “pornographic images and material.”) It’s no anomaly that Vine made through, though.

So it’s hard to believe that the App Store didn’t consider the fact that people might upload pictures of their penises to Vine. It’s more likely that they did and decided to see how Twitter would deal with it, when it became a problem.

Twitter — again, which is behind Vine — has responded to the questionable content. In a statement on The Verge, the company says:

Users can report videos as inappropriate within the product if they believe the content to be sensitive or inappropriate (e.g. nudity, violence, or medical procedures). Videos that have been reported as inappropriate have a warning message that a viewer must click through before viewing the video.

Uploaded videos that are reported and determined to violate our guidelines will be removed from the site, and the user that posted the video may be terminated.

Vine’s own terms of use does not mention a ban on pornography or inappropriate content. In fact, it reads that users understand that by using the app they “may be exposed to Content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate, or in some cases, postings that have been mislabeled or are otherwise deceptive.”

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